A Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri


A Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri

The Journal and Description of Jean-Baptiste Truteau, 1794–1796

Jean-Baptiste Truteau
Edited by Raymond J. DeMallie, Douglas R. Parks, and Robert Vézina
Translated by Mildred Mott Wedel, Raymond J. DeMallie, and Robert Vézina

Studies in the Anthropology of North American Indians Series

752 pages
9 illustrations, 2 figures, 4 maps, 7 tables, index

eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2017


$100.00 Add to Cart

August 2017


$100.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2018 Dwight L. Smith (ABC-CLIO) Award from the Western History Association

A Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri offers the first annotated scholarly edition of Jean-Baptiste Truteau’s journal of his voyage on the Missouri River in the central and northern Plains from 1794 to 1796 and of his description of the upper Missouri. This fully modern and magisterial edition of this essential journal surpasses all previous editions in assisting scholars and general readers in understanding Truteau’s travels and encounters with the numerous Native peoples of the region, including the Arikaras, Cheyennes, Lakotas-Dakotas-Nakotas, Omahas, and Pawnees. Truteau’s writings constitute the very foundation to our understanding of the late eighteenth-century fur trade in the region immediately preceding the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803.

An unparalleled primary source for its descriptions of Native American tribal customs, beliefs, rituals, material culture, and physical appearances, A Fur Trader on the Upper Missouri will be a classic among scholars, students, and general readers alike.

Along with this new translation by Mildred Mott Wedel, Raymond J. DeMallie, and Robert Vézina, which includes facing French-English pages, the editors shed new light on Truteau’s description of the upper Missouri and acknowledge his journal as the foremost account of Native peoples and the fur trade during the eighteenth century. Vézina’s essay on the language used and his glossary of voyageur French also provide unique insight into the language of an educated French Canadian fur trader.

Author Bio

Jean-Baptiste Truteau (1748–1827) was an explorer, trapper, fur trader, surveyor, and Canadian French teacher. Raymond J. DeMallie is Chancellors’ Professor of Anthropology, co-director of the American Indian Studies Research Institute, and curator of North American Ethnology at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at Indiana University. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Lakota Belief and Ritual (Nebraska, 1991). Douglas R. Parks is a professor of anthropology and co-director of the American Indian Studies Research Institute at Indiana University. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Traditional Narratives of the Arikara Indians, volumes 1–4 (Nebraska, 1990–92). Robert Vézina is a linguist specializing in North American French historical lexicology. He is currently the president and chief executive officer of the Office québécois de la langue française (Quebec Office of the French Language). Mildred Mott Wedel (1912–95) was a pioneer in ethnohistory and recipient of multiple awards, including a Distinguished Service Award for lifetime achievement from the Plains Anthropological Society.



“This is the finest critical and textual edition ever crafted for presenting a fur trade journal. The full Truteau manuscript here is absolutely essential to the history of the fur trade in the United States and Canada. . . . We simply cannot adequately understand Plains ethnohistory without it.”—Gilles Havard, research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris and author of Histoire des coureurs de bois

“A major and unique contribution to the fields of anthropology, ethnohistory, history, linguistics, and travel literature. This is the first and only complete, reliable, and thoroughly researched edition of Truteau’s writings.”—Denys Delâge, professor emeritus in the department of sociology at Laval University, Québec, and author of Bitter Feast: Amerindians and Europeans in Northeastern North America, 1600–64


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